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There are a few things going on in my world that has really made me think.

#1 is Haitian relief efforts.  I am happy to be one of the thousands, if not millions of people who donated money to MSF/DWB (Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders) and I one of the many Knitters Without Borders.

#2 is that when this relief effort moves to page 2 and out of our line of sight, will we still be thinking about others who are living in a nightmare?  I don’t mean specifically with building toppling around them or having no idea if their family is alive or sleeping on the streets because their home isnt building stable.

But what about those who are homeless?

Those children who are afraid to go home because of an unstable family?

Those people who haven’t enough to eat?

Those people who can’t dress warmly enough for the weather?

Those people who don’t have access to the medicines they need to stay healthy?

Those children who need a life saving cleft palate surgery?

Young people who have no place to go after school?

Unvisited Elders either in group homes or who live alone?

People living in a war-ravished county who need food, shelter, clothes and crave the normalcy they have almost forgotten?

The list can go on and on.  By no means do I want to detract from the Haitian relief efforts but I have to wonder, what are we giving to the needy who are on page 2?  Those people in our own communities that are in need of comfort and generosity that we can reach out and touch RIGHT NOW.  Please, if you haven’t already, give to MSF/DWB with your donation being “Undirected” so that the skilled managers there can put your money to work where it is needed the most.  Maybe its Haiti but it also could be Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, or DRC.  And then think about what you can do, right now, for your community.

Take food over to the local food bank?

Donate clothes?

Could you become a foster parent?

Give unwanted (but whole) games to a local youth program?

Become a Big Brother/Big Sister?

Work a shift at the homeless cafe?

Read to elderly?

Volunteer at the hospital?

Cook dinner for a neighbour?

Go watch a Freshman or JV sports game to encourage youth?

An Elder you can shovel for?

Just think about what can you do to make the lives of those around you better.  What would make them smile?  What would make their day just a little bit easier?  My friend BrightonWoman told me that while she was pregnant with Eagle and having a rough few first months while her husband was travelling with school work (he was the 6-12 teacher), while everyone in town said things like, “Wow, it must be hard for you with 2 little ones and to be pregnant!”, no one thought to bring over dinner or to invite them over.  No one stopped by to visit.  No one reached out a hand to help them and they had been well known in that village of 35 people.  Granted, her need wasn’t a blatantly obvious one but what about those people with less obvious needs around you?  What about sharing your friendship?  Its simple, wholesome, and really is cost free because whatever you ‘lose’ of your time, you have gained a friend and companion.  Befriend a youth and you will help building them to becoming a successful adult.  Befriend an elder and you can give them someone to talk to and share their stories with.  Befriend a peer and who knows what skills you will learn!

My point is simple: Look Around.  Helping those in need doesnt need to be front page news and shouldnt be limited to emergency relief efforts “Over There”.  There are people in need in your backyard.  Please don’t forget to help them too.  It makes the world better for all of us in the end and takes, on the whole, very little for you to make a major impact.

Ironically, I am going to blog about a very special kind of togetherness in this post. Its from a decidedly Christan perspective so before we even get into the topic, if you don’t want to have an open mind of that POV, just go away.

Long days with very little to do result in much reading and then thoughts about that reading.  Right now I am reading “Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity” by Lauren Winner (who is among my favourite Christian writers) so the biggest thing that is on my mind is sex.  Please wait a few more sentences instead of clicking away in disgust.  I promise nothing graphic, perverse or obscene, just thought provoking thoughts that have been mulling around in my brain.

We live in a society that is so highly sexualised that we think nothing of next to naked photos, movies with steamy embraces, passionate kisses, actual sex (though hidden under sheets but not hiding the staged moaning), hearing about various celebrities sexual peccadilloes and even have knitting patterns for lingerie, whips and pony-boy hats.  We put it all out there to be talked about, even give indiscretions ‘fancy’ names like “the walk of shame” and let friends tease us the morning after about that guy/girl we went home with the night before.  There is a level to this teasing though.  Its all good until someone says you shouldn’t have.

Some of us have friends that we disclose our actions to but for whatever reason we have decided to put the brakes on when it comes to telling each other what we think about their sexual actions.  Think about it.  If someone cheats on a test, most of us have no qualms about saying, “Wow dude, you really shouldnt have done that” or ” ‘Fess up” when we have caught them in a lie.  We will be honest and say that “Stealing is bad”, “That was a mean thing to do” or even something as mild as “That sweater really isnt for you” but when it comes to sex, all bets are off.

Why is it that we question all other sinful behaviours and make our views known but draw the line at extra-marital (both unmarried and adulterous) sexual actions?

“Shes a big girl” “He knows what hes doing” “S/He was drunk” “They are nearly married” “Its his/her life and his/her choice” “Its going to suck if she/he finds out” “Its none of my business”

Really, sex outside of marriage is just as much as a sin as stealing, lying, cheating or any other barrage of sins.  In typing that, I know that I am damning myself.  While I am reading about chastity, I have lead a far from chaste lifestyle.  But heres the thing…Reading this book wouldnt have been nearly as thought provoking if my friends had helped hold me accountable for my actions.  Before thinking that I ‘blame them’ for my relations, think about the last time you helped a friend with their actions.  Did you help them face an adversary?  Talk frankly about their relationship with their partner?  Encourage talking openly and honestly with a parent or other friend about issues?  Give them the kick they needed to get out of doors and working off those Christmas cookies?  Those of you with kids, do you think that they will ‘blame’ you for reminding them not to lie?  For teaching them over and over again what behaviour is acceptable?  Its those frank conversations that generally do us the most good.  There are clear lines set out, expectations for behaviour defined.  Do you really think the person who cheated on the test didn’t know better?  Or the one who stole didnt know they shouldnt?  Of course they did.  They just needed a reminder to correct the behaviour, stop doing it, get right with God and move on on the “right” path.  Blame my friends for not reminding me of the sin I was committing?  No because I have been as guilty of sidestepping the sex issue as much as they. There is no blame in accountability.  But here is where the sidestepping stops and my path can be re-created.

I want to be able to face my friends questions about my conduct, all my conduct, full in the face.  My life is their business because we are all in the same family, the family of Christ.  I want to be able to look into their eyes and tell them truthfully that No, I’m not doing anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to see me do.  2010 (and the end of 2009) is the year of beginning again on the chaste path.  The path were I am not afraid to talk to my friend frankly about my actions and ask about theirs because I want whats best for both of us.  I won’t ever claim to be perfect but with your help, I can work on it.